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S2 / EP15: The Strange Murder of Robert Wone

Updated: Mar 31, 2021

This is truly the most bizarre case you will ever hear. The first time I came across this case, I almost couldn't believe it. Is this case the perfect murder? Quite possibly, yes. All clues point to someone in the house, but when you hear the case, you'll feel as if you're in a real life game of Clue. The evidence at the crime scene doesn't make sense, the wounds don't make sense...and after you hear this episode you'll be wondering - as I did - "who did it?"

 

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Transcribed Episode / S2 EP15: The Strange Murder of Robert Wone


[Host]

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[Intro Music Begins / Fades]


[Host]

The case I’m about to tell you will quite possibly be the most intriguing case you will ever hear. The crime scene, the victim, the suspects….every single item and human being involved in this case is complex and will lead you to sit up night after night, wondering...who did it?

Simply put, this case is almost the perfect crime, and once you’ve listened to the facts of the case and the evidence, maybe you can decipher what happened, and who was actually responsible for the murder of...Robert Wone.

Robert Eric Wone was a fourth-generation Chinese American. He was born in 1974 in New York City to William and Aimee Wone. His family members would live in Chinatown and the neighboring cities of New York. He attended a private Catholic School, Xaverian High, in Brooklyn where he graduated as valedictorian and went on to attend the College of William and Mary as a James Monroe Scholar - which are the most academically distinguished undergraduates. He majored in Public Policy and became active in student government. It was during the 92-93 school year when he met Joseph Price. Robert and Joe became good friends, sharing honor society and student government leadership positions. Joe Price graduated from William and Mary in 1993.

Robert graduated three years later in 1996, receiving the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, an award presented to a student excelling in “characteristics of heart, mind and helpfulness to others.”

Following his graduation, he moved on to study at the University of Pennsylvania law school, where he was active in the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. He graduated cum laude in 1999, and passed the New York state bar. He served as a law clerk for about a year for Raymond A. Jackson, a federal judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.

In 2000, Wone joined the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. His focus was on employment law and commercial real estate. In 2002, Robert met his future wife, Katherine Ellen Yu of Vernon Hills Illinois, at a conference in Philadelphia.

The two married on June 7th, 2003. Joe Price and his partner Victor Zaborsky attended the wedding. Robert and Katherine then moved to Oakton, a suburb in Virginia located in Fairfax County. By that year, Robert became the lead associate attorney and was named as one of three finalists for “Best Office Lease” by the Washington Business Journal.

Robert was very active in numerous community organizations, was President-elect of the Asian Pacific American Bar Association and was a member of Grace Community Church in Arlington Virginia.

In June of 2006, Robert left Covington and began working as general counsel for Radio Free Asia, a United States government–funded, nonprofit international broadcasting corporation, in downtown Washington, D.C.

To say Robert was successful and accomplished, was an understatement.


In late July of 2006, Robert, now 32 years old, was scheduled to attend a CLE course the night of August 2nd, and also had a meeting with the night shift workers at Radio Free Asia. He knew that the class and meetings would run into the late night hours, so to avoid driving home that evening (he and Katherine lived roughly 17 to 18 miles from his work office) he thought it would be a better idea to stay the night at a friend’s house within the city. He first contacted a female friend to ask her if he could stay the night, but she said he could not. He then emailed his college friend Joe Price. Robert had never stayed at Joe’s home before but they had kept in contact over the years and remained friends, Joe even attended Robert’s wedding. Joe’s house was only about a mile to a mile and a half from Robert’s office, so it would be super convenient. Joe responded to Robert’s email telling him that yes, he could stay the night at his house, so Robert let him know he would be arriving at the house around 11:00 that night. Robert also let his wife know of his plans.

35 year old Joe Price worked as an attorney for Arent Fox, a law firm in Washington DC, where he specialized in intellectual property litigation and trademark and copyright disputes. In 2005 Joe purchased a high-end three story townhouse at 1509 Swann Street, NW in the Logan Circle neighborhood of Washington DC. He lived in the townhouse with his partner, 40 year old Victor Zaborsky and a third gentleman, 36 year old Dylan Ward. Victor Zaborsky was the senior marketing manager for Milk Processors Education Program or MilkPep (the ones who did the “Got Milk” campaign), and Dylan Ward was a chef, children’s book author and licensed masseuse.

The three men had been in a polyamorous relationship for about four years.with Joe and Victor in a relationship together, and Joe and Dylan also in a relationship. The house shared walls with the neighboring houses on either side, and included a finished basement. The first story included a living area, dining area, kitchen and a deadbolt door that led to a fairly small outdoor patio enclosed by an 8 foot fence and a locked security gate. A 16-step carpet-less wood staircase took you to the second floor. The second floor contained two bedrooms: one of which was Dylan’s room located at the top of the stairs, and the other was a guest room which was situated towards the front of the house and overlooked Swann street. A bathroom, separate from the bedrooms, was next to Dylan’s room and down the hall from the guest room. Another set of stairs led to the third floor which contained the master bedroom which Joe and Victor shared. The house had an alarm system that caused a “chime” every time the front or rear doors were opened. The finished basement of the house was rented out to a close friend of Joe and Victor, a single woman named Sarah Morgan.

On August 2nd, tenant Sarah Morgan had let Joe know that she wasn’t going to be home that evening, but that she’d be spending the night at a friend’s house. She left the house around 6pm and told Joe that she would set the house alarm before leaving.

That evening at around 9:30, Robert called Katherine to let her know he had just finished his CLE class and was headed back to work to meet the night shift employees. At 10:24, Robert calls Joe from his work phone to presumably let him know that he would be leaving for their house. It would take approximately 8-10 minutes for Robert to drive from his workplace to the Swann Street residence.

Robert arrives at Joe’s house between 10:30 and 10:40 that night. Robert, Joe and Dylan share a glass of water in the kitchen and make idle chat. Victor didn’t see Robert when he came in, as he was already in bed in the master bedroom on the third floor. A little before 11:00, the men retire to bed with Robert heading upstairs to the guest bedroom on the second floor. Joe headed up to his bedroom on the third floor and Dylan to his bedroom on the second floor. Robert then took a shower in the bathroom down the hall from his room.

At 11:05 and 11:07, Robert’s Blackberry had two emails set up as drafts. One of the emails was to Robert’s wife telling her that he just showered and was about to go to sleep. The second one was confirming a work lunch the next day. The emails were never sent. The phone was later handed over to the custody of police, but they failed to image or fingerprint it before they turned it over to Robert’s company Radio Free Asia, who wiped the phone. It was never determined if Robert himself wrote those emails, or if someone else wrote them, or if someone altered the time stamps on the drafts.

Sometime after falling asleep at around 11:05 or 11:10, Joe and Victor heard a security “chime” indicating one of the doors to their home was opened. Joe assumed it was Sarah probably coming home to her basement apartment which has its own separate entrance. The two men then heard three “grunts or low scream” sounds coming from downstairs. They walked downstairs to the second floor, entered the guest bedroom, and found Robert, lying on his bed. He’d been stabbed.

Between 11:00 and 11:30 that night, the next door neighbor William Thomas, who’s bedroom shared a wall with Robert’s room, heard a single desperation scream coming from the room on the opposite side of his wall. The neighbor recalled the time frame, as he was watching a newscast that aired at that time.

Joe told Victor to go upstairs immediately and call 911, even though there was a phone in Robert’s room. It was 11:49pm when a frantic Victor Zaborsky called 911:

[911 Call from Victor Zaborsky]



[911 Operator]

Washington DC Emergency 911 Operator 6752 do you need police, fire or ambulance?


[Victor Zaborsky]

...immediately, we need an ambulance.


[911 Operator]

What’s wrong ma’am.


[Victor Zaborsky]

We had someone (inaudible) in our house evidently, and they stabbed somebody.


[911 Operator]

Okay somebody’s inside the house now?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I don’t know, we heard…


[911 Operator]

Are they bleeding?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Yes


[911 Operator]

Say someone is bleeding?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Someone is bleeding in our house…


[911 Operator]

Okay where are they bleeding from?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I think in the stomach.


[911 Operator]

In the stomach...is he conscious? Calm down for me, I’m gonna send some help okay. Female or male?


[Victor Zaborsky]

It’s a male, he’s a friend of ours, he was spending the night with us.


[911 Operator]

Okay and who was the person that stabbed him, do you know?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I don’t…


[911 Operator]

Is he conscious?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We need an ambulance…


[911 Operator]

Ma’am…


[Victor Zaborsky]

No he’s not conscious.


[911 Operator]

He’s not conscious at all?


[Victor Zaborsky]

No. We need someone right now.


[911 Operator]

Is he breathing? Listen to me, calm down we’re gonna help you okay, is he breathing?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I’m upstairs and he’s downstairs, I don’t know.


[911 Operator]

Okay who’s downstairs with him?


[Victor Zaborsky]

My partner is downstairs with him right now. He told me to go upstairs and call the police immediately, (inaudible)...


[911 Operator]

Okay who’s the person…? Okay, I’m sending paramedics and the police. Okay who’s the person that stabbed him?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I don’t know, we think it’s somebody, was an intruder in the house, we heard a chime at the door.


[911 Operator]

And that’s 15, ma’am calm down, 1509 Swann Street Northwest am I correct?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Yes.


[911 Operator]

The person that stabbed him, is he still in the home?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I don’t know.


[911 Operator]

We got help en route okay.


[Victor Zaborsky]

Thank you, thank you.


[911 Operator]

They are, they’re en route to you now, the police, and the paramedics okay to assist. What I need you to do is to go downstairs okay, the place wherever he was stabbed at, I need you to get a dry cloth okay, and just apply pressure to that area. Wherever he was stabbed at on his body, I need you take a towel downstairs while you’re waiting for the paramedics to arrive and just apply pressure, even if the rag or towel is saturated with blood just get another towel and put it on top, never lift the first towel off the area. Hold it on, once it gets filled up with blood, just put another towel on top of that and just apply pressure until the paramedics arrive.


[Victor Zaborsky]

(inaudible) apply pressure….paramedics are on the way?


[911 Operator]

Yes.


[Victor Zaborsky]

He was stabbed in the heart.


[911 Operator]

In the heart?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Yes. In the center of his chest.


[911 Operator]

Okay is he breathing?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Is he breathing?


[911 Operator]

You don’t know who it was?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We have no idea.


[911 Operator]

Okay is he breathing?


[Victor Zaborsky]

He’s breathing but we need help now.


[911 Operator]

Okay we have help en route ma’am okay, we do have help en route. Just go down there and try to tell your husband, or your other half, to try to keep him calm and talk to him okay. Keep him calm and talk to him until someone gets there, and at the same time get a dry cloth and just hold it right there in the area…


[Victor Zaborsky]

My partner is holding the...


[911 Operator]

Okay


[Victor Zaborsky]

...is holding it on him…


[911 Operator]

And once it gets saturated with blood, tell him to get another one, go get another towel so you can apply it on top of that once it gets filled up with blood. You need to apply pressure on that area.


[Victor Zaborsky]

He is applying pressure right now.


[911 Operator]

Just hold it there until the paramedics get there, they should be pulling up any moment, they’re already en route to your location.

You don’t know who did this?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We have no idea who did this.


[911 Operator]

Is the door open so they can get in?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We don’t know how they got in.


[911 Operator]

Okay, what I’m asking you now, is the door open so the paramedics can get in once they get there?


[Victor Zaborsky]

What were you saying?


[911 Operator]

Is the door open so the paramedics can get in the home?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I was going to go down...


[911 Operator]

Is this a private home or an apartment?


[Victor Zaborsky]

It’s a home.


[911 Operator]

It’s a home, 1509 Swann Street Northwest?


[Victor Zaborsky]

The person has one of our knives.


[911 Operator]

The person that stabbed him ran out of the door with a knife?


[Victor Zaborsky]

I think so…


[911 Operator]

Anybody, any type of description of the person that came into the home?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We have no idea, we have no description, we heard the chime, then we heard the screams from our friend.


[911 Operator]

Okay.


[Victor Zaborsky]

And so we came running downstairs, we ran…


[911 Operator]

So you both were upstairs and your friend was downstairs?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Yes.


[911 Operator]

You heard the door open and then you heard the scream?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We didn’t, I didn’t hear the door open until after the scream and then we ran down the stairs, we hear, and we have an alarm, and so the chime went off.


[911 Operator]

Okay.


[Victor Zaborsky]

Is the ambulance please, we really need the ambulance.


[911 Operator]

Okay, they en route, they en route now ma’am. Go to the door they should be pulling up any moment okay.


[Victor Zaborsky]

I’m afraid to go downstairs!


[911 Operator]

Okay the person who’s downstairs was the person who was (inaudible)


[Victor Zaborsky]

No we’re on the second floor.


[911 Operator]

Okay somebody needs to go downstairs open the door for the paramedics. You’re not sure if that person is still in the home or not?


[Victor Zaborsky]

We have no idea.


[911 Operator]

Okay we have paramedics en route okay.


[Victor Zaborsky]

What time is it?


[911 Operator]

What time is it at the moment?


[Victor Zaborsky]

Yes.


[911 Operator]

23:54, it’s 11:54 ma’am.


[Victor Zaborsky]

11:54.


[911 Operator]

Yes.

I’ll stay on the line with you, I will stay on the line until somebody gets there okay I won’t hang up.


[Victor Zaborsky]